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Asean Affairs  3 April 2011


By  David Swartzentruber

AseanAffairs     3 April 2011

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These were the most important stories published by Asean Affairs during the week of March 26-April 1.

Cambodian-Korean trade increases
The value of bilateral trade between Cambodia and South Korea has risen 38 percent in the first two months of this year, compared to the same period of 2010.

Indonesia to protect industries from Chinese goods
The Indonesian government will protect the country's manufacturers from a huge influx of Chinese products after the implementation of the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement last year, Industry Minister MS Hidayat said.

Heavy debts put deal at risk
ArcelorMittal's plan to buy into G Steel Plc might falter and the local steelmaker will be forced to delist from the Stock Exchange of Thailand because of the pending restructuring of US$950 million in debts.

Relocation trend a challenge
Outward investment by Japanese companies in Thailand is unlikely to abate in the near future, considering the strength of the yen, ageing demographics in Japan and the cost advantages of moving production closer to Asean's growing market of middle-class consumers, particularly as the region moves to deepen economic ties.

Extra meeting on Mekong dam set
Mekong region countries are to have an extra meeting for the controversial Xayaburi dam. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand have agreed to convene a special session on the prior consultation process for Laos’ controversial proposed Xayaburi hydropower dam on the Mekong River before determining how they should proceed with the proposal, the Mekong River Commission announced.

Philippines investment is not popular
The Philippines was among the least popular investment destinations in Southeast Asia at a time when many companies in the region are planning to expand their operations, according to a recent survey conducted by the Asean Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

Toyota joins in Cambodian rice scheme
Toyota Tsusho, the trading arm of Japan's Toyota Motor Corporation, has joined with Thailand's Huay Chuan Rice Co to help develop Cambodia's growing rice industry.

Mekong River Commission discloses proposed dam’s environmental impacts
The Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat review of trans-boundary social issues related to Laos’ controversial proposed Xayaburi hydropower dam on the Mekong River focuses mainly on the consequences of environmental impacts, the Secretariat said in its latest report.

Thai government advised to drop food price caps
The Thai government should abandon its policy of food price control, as it causes food shortages and affects farmers' incentives to stay in the industry.

VW to make Malaysia its regional hub
Volkswagen AG plans to make its plant in Pekan its regional hub and 800 new jobs are expected to be created within the next 2 years.

First zero-carbon store in Asean
Tesco Lotus is preparing to open its first zero-carbon retail store in Southeast Asia in Thailand in November.

Indonesian banks face difficult year
Though ratings agencies are bullish about Indonesia’s stability, bankers are worried about a series of hurdles likely to see profitability fall from last year.

Vietnamese FDI disbursements hit peak
Disbursement of foreign direct investment in March reached US$1.39 billion, the highest level since the beginning of the year, according to the Foreign Investment Agency (FIA) of the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Lynas discusses rare earth venture
Australia-listed Lynas Corp Ltd had received approvals to build a rare earth refinery in Australia and China but picked Malaysia as the “preferred location” given its “proximity to market, access to high quality chemicals, utilities and engineering skills' coupled with its transparent regulatory framework,” said the company.

Vietnam orders SOEs to sell dollars
The State Bank of Viet Nam has announced its plan to order major state-owned economic groups and corporations to sell US$376 million in US dollar reserves to the commmercial banking system next week to reduce the accumulation of dollars in the economy.

Goldman raises Malaysia’s GDP forecast
Goldman Sachs has raised Malaysia's 2011 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast to 5.5 percent from 5.2 percent previously, driven by robust domestic demand.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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